The creative community taking shape in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle has snared its first major music production name with Steve Levine relocating his own personal studio facility to the area from its former location in London.
Part of the long-term regeneration of Liverpool city centre, the Baltic Triangle has been developed to provide a home for artists, musicians, photographers, film-makers, architects and other creatives. The result, says Levine, “is a really positive, community-type atmosphere that has played a significant part in bringing me here. You really don’t encounter that spirit much in London anymore. Plus, so many of the artists I have been working with lately – such as singer/songwriter Natalie McCool – are based in the area, it makes sense to be here full time.”
For the MPG chairman, the new facility also marks a conscious decision to separate personal and professional spaces once more after years of recording at home. “I don’t regret that at all, but everything goes in cycles, and the fact is that having a studio at home can be quite hard in terms of wear and tear on your house – and your life,” says Levine.
At 1,950sqft, the new facility is his most generously proportioned to date, accommodating a recording space sufficient for a five-piece band, along with a control room, an office space and reception area. Levine undertook most of the wiring and installation work himself, but did call on several local firms for assistance, including tour sound specialist Adlib.
The majority of the equipment has made the journey from Levine’s previous space, but he confirms that he currently has his eye on “several other bits and pieces that I’ll doubtless get around to buying soon”. Occupying pride of place in the control room is a Yamaha DM2000 console, with recording taking place on Mac in both Pro Tools and Logic – although the latter is Levine’s personal preference. An RME ADI-648 MADI/ADAT converter facilitates 64 discrete channels through the DM2000, while Apogee’s Big Ben provides the master clock.
Choice outboard includes a Focusrite ISA 215 dual mic preamplifier EQ – a much-beloved part of the Levine studio arsenal that was recently serviced “and has come back good as new – so many thanks to Phil [Dudderidge, Focusrite owner and chairman] and his team for that!” Monitors at Levine’s disposal, meanwhile, include his long-serving PMC LB1s (“they still sound amazing”) and a rather more recently purchased pair of Neumann KH 120 A studio monitors: “They are very accurate and sound great at low volumes too – I’ve really fallen in love with them!”
Some additional recording for McCool’s next release will be among the first projects through the door at Steve Levine Recording, Liverpool. In addition to working with up-and-coming artists, Levine may use the studio in conjunction with his ongoing production masterclasses at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). It will also be pressed into service for numerous broadcasting commitments, including his long-running BBC Radio 2 and 6Music show, The Record Producers, which he works on alongside Richard Allinson and Neil Myners (indeed, Levine was in the midst of re-editing a Pink Floyd special for August Bank Holiday transmission at the time of his conversation with PSNEurope). This and other BBC-related work also makes the 35-minute car journey to MediaCity in Salford another advantage of the new location.
‘Empty nest’ syndrome (“my wife Karen and I are like teenagers again!”) has made it easier for Levine to up sticks after many years of being based in London, but it’s clear he is genuinely excited about the creative possibilities of basing himself in Britain’s eighth most populous city.
“I’ve been working here more and more over the past 10 years, and it’s obvious that a major new generation of talent is coming through,” he says. “In recent years, Liverpool hasn’t always been particularly well-served in terms of recording studios, which is absolutely insane when you think about the history of the place! But with Parr Street, Motor Museum Recording Studio and now my personal studio, there is a real hub of places to record. This city is on the up creatively and it’s great to be a part of it.”